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Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right…

Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens…

by Randall Balmer

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It is refreshing to see an historically accurate recounting of the evangelical movement, rightly pointing out some of its achievements and shining light on its political hijacking by a few cynical folks who wanted to take it away from its social liberal roots and use it for its on purposes.

Balmer is an historian and evangelical who decries the distortion of the movement's roots and its hijacking by a small group of cynical (that's got to be the only word for it) group of people anxious to improve their own political power and standing. The issue of abortion was not even on the right's radar screen until several years after Roe v Wade. As Balmer points out, abortion is barely mentioned in the Bible appearing -- and even then only very loosely -- in Psalms, Deuteronomy and Luke. Divorce had been the evil of choice until around 1979, but with the election of Ronald Reagan, darling of the right, they couldn't very well pick on divorce. (of course, Reagan had supported pro-abortion bills earlier in his political career.)

It remains ironic -- and a symbol of their political callousness -- they the number one issue for the religious right is tax cuts. Tax cuts, for heaven's sake. Balmer has every reason to be dismayed.

A list of his concerns posted on Amazon:

"Other issues championed by the Religious Right strike Balmer as equally disingenuous and/or misguided:

"Prayer in schools -- Jesus criticized those who made prayer into a spectator sport - "go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father."

"Creationism -- Until the intelligent design creationists "can devise experiments consistent with the scientific method to test their claims, they should stop parading as scientists." 140. "Intelligent design is religion, not science and the proper venue for the propagation of faith is the home or the church, not the university." 138.

"Home schooling -- "For much of the twentieth century, evangelicals found comfort within their subculture as a place of refuge from the outside world, which they came increasingly to regard as both corrupt and corrupting. The homeschool movement and the impulse to send children to religious schools merely represent an extension of that fortress mentality." 107.

"Anti-environmentalism - "for decades, evangelicals have neglected the environment because it seemed to them unimportant in their grander scheme of biblical interpretation." 145. Now groups such as the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship which is a coalition of Religious Right leaders aiming to counteract the environmental movement, with support from James Dobson, Charles Colson among other high profile of the Religious Right, simply "echo the pro-business and antiregulatory sentiments of political conservatives." 154.

"Torture - unconscionable silence. [Who Would Jesus Torture?:]

"Perhaps most disturbing of all is how "Leaders of the Religious Right [Dobson and others:] have expressed their disdain for toleration and for pluralism itself." 90. "Their ideology, laced as it is with the rhetoric of militarism, represents a betrayal of the faith. The shameless pursuit of affluence and power and political influence has led the Religious Right into shady alliances and has brought dishonor to the gospel." 189.

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  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is a beautifully written book. It is relatively short, but contains spirited writing regarding the author's feelings about being a "jilted lover." Historically, he tells us, Baptists have always stood for the separation of church and state. It is only in recent times that we find politics and religion joined together by today's Religious Right. Mr. Balmer then presents his views that the issues of abortion and homosexuality are contrived ones, political buzz issues to mobilize the faithful. Divorce used to be an equally big issue until the election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was divorced so the religious right needed a new issue: abortion. The author points out that abortion was not an issue until some years after the supreme court's decision in Roe vs Wade.

Mr. Balmer also discusses religious right attitudes toward school vouchers, evolution and global warming. Those who are premillenialists see no need to treat our planet with care as the second coming is just around the corner. The promotion of school vouchers is, in his words, an attempt by the religious right to destroy public schools. The promotion of more and more private schools will have a devastating effect on America's pluralism. Students should be in schools that allow them to associate with the vast variety of American citizens.

This was a spellbinding book to me, an outsider. The author, a professor at Barnard College, and Columbia states in an epilogue that publishing this book will make him a pariah amongst evangelicals. That there is some truth to this can even be evidenced by some of the Amazon reviews of his book. ( )
  bucherwurm | Apr 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465005195, Hardcover)

For much of American history, evangelicalism was aligned with progressive political causes. Nineteenth-century evangelicals fought for the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, and public education. But contemporary conservative activists have defaulted on this majestic legacy, embracing instead an agenda virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party platform. Abortion, gay marriage, intelligent design--the Religious Right is fighting, and winning, some of the most important political battles of the twentyfirst century. How has evangelical Christianity become so entrenched in partisan politics? Randall Balmer is both an evangelical Christian and a historian of American religion. Struggling to reconcile the contemporary state of evangelical faith in America with its proud tradition of progressivism, Balmer has headed to the frontlines of some of the most powerful and controversial organizations tied to the Religious Right. With a skillful combination of grassroots organization, ideological conviction, and media savvy, the leaders of the movement have mobilized millions of American evangelical Christians behind George W. Bush's hard-right political agenda. Deftly combining ethnographic research, theological reflections, and historical context, Balmer laments the trivialization of Christianity--and offers a rallying cry for liberal Christians to reclaim the noble traditions of their faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Examines the involvement of evangelical Christianity in modern-day American partisan politics, criticizing the new generation of religious leaders who have corrupted the Christian faith on behalf of the Republican Party.

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